Timeline

Our missions journey to date has been full of lots of waiting and unknowns. That is sure to continue.

We started to have a clearer picture of what the future might hold in November 2015 when we became members of Wycliffe Bible Translators. December marked the official invitation for us to go to Cameroon. And so, we ended the year with a lot more answers than we started with.

In January 2016, we attended the orientation course, Equip, in Orlando. We learned a lot. Among the lessons we learned that we can plan, but God has the ultimate plan, which may not match ours exactly. Then in February, our Partnership Development (PD) began. We sent out our very first newsletter and began to tell people about what we planned to do (because we finally knew some of those answers!)

Early in March, it became clear that we would have to go to France for language study and so we began researching and learning about that.

As we began to try to learn more in preparation for our move, we were connected with a family in Cameroon and got our buddies in April. (We really do wish this had happened much earlier, maybe if a full year earlier!)

We sent out another newsletter in May and reached the halfway point in our monthly financial partnership promises. This cleared the way for us to attend a required training in NC in the fall.

In June, we decided to attend language school in a small village in the French Alps. From the CCEF, we learned that our classes will start on January 3, 2017.

Now it is July and we are the missionaries of the month at our home church. That means that we are talking in front of the church one Sunday, doing a presentation with some families from our church and that we are being prayed for specifically each Wednesday at prayer.

August and September will be more PD work for us and hopefully our Wycliffe ministry will have a full partnership team. We will send out information to our prayer partners about a specific day to pray for each other each month. We’ve already been praying for each of our partners and this will help us to be more orderly about it. This is also when we will have a garage sale and possibly put our house on the market.

The Intercultural Communication Course (ICC) is another training for Brian and I. So, we will be going to JAARS in NC for the month of October (and one week of November) to study and learn as much as possible to help us in our transition. The plan for the kids is to stay in school and live with their grandparents while we are gone. Brian will likely leave his current job in October as we will be working full-time as missionaries (in training).

We will all need to go to Chicago for a visa interview in November. If all goes according to our plan, we will have our visas in time to leave for France at the end of December 2016. I am also going to try to make a last trip to LA to visit my sister and her new baby girl that should be born at the end of November!

So, January-June 2017, we will be studying French in France and then if everything works according to my plan, we will be fluent and ready to return to the US for a quick visit with family and friends in July 2017. Then we will move to Cameroon by August 2017 so that the kids can start the new school year in our new home.

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Step 1: Learn Stuff

As we get ready to go to Cameroon, we are trying to learn as much as we can about what will be are new home. One of the ways that we’ve done that is by watching this video:

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Joint Mission

August 12, 2000, Brian and I were married at the church where I’d been working for the summer with the youth. We both knew that we needed to pay off debt before we could go abroad and felt like God was not directing us to go anywhere right away. We decided that in about 5 years we’d go serve God somewhere exotic. Shortly, we found a new church and found a great group of young couples whom we spent lots of time with studying God’s word, praying, playing, and even traveling. We worked (Brian as a computer programmer and myself as an ESL teacher), enjoyed time with friends and served in the church.

After a few years, we looked into Wycliffe again. We had Wycliffe recruiters who lived a few miles from us at that time. But, still God said: Not yet. Another couple years passed, we made some more contacts and looked into different opportunities in France several times over the years with different organizations and contacts. Always it seemed like God said: Not yet.

Before too long, our family began to grow. And, more kids came. We were happy where we were and yet still interested in the opportunity to live abroad, especially since I believed God really had called us to go, at some point. While raising our young kids, Brian continued to be an integral part of the worship team at church and I continued to lead Bible studies for women and teach kids. I also volunteered as an ESL teacher through the Arab-American Friendship Center and then later at the local library. I helped with our local MOPS group for several years where I learned a lot about leading a group, delegating and being humble. At various times, we’d sense God’s call and seek Him more, but each time God said: Not yet.

We just celebrated 15 years of being married with an amazing trip to Turkey. As of a month ago, I still heard God saying: Soon, but not yet. But, very recently, God said: Soon, very soon.

This past year has been one where we became convinced that God was calling us to go, but we weren’t sure where or how. So, we sought the advice of some wise folks and started looking at various opportunities. We talked to lots and lots of missions agencies, organizations and people. We attended some conferences and looked at jobs. We prayed and asked others to join in praying for us. For a few months, it seemed like we were moving along and God was opening doors and directing us, but then it seemed to slow down and even stop completely. God was saying: Wait.

I had a really hard time with that. I did not want to wait anymore. It’s not that I’m in a hurry to move, but I really want to know what the future holds for our family. I want all the answers and I’d like them spelled out in detail before it all happens. But, it was over this spring and summer that God really showed me how to wait on Him and to trust Him. I’d still like to know what lies ahead for us, but I understand that God is sovereign over all and He is at work – around the world so that many will come to know Him and live with Him forever. He isn’t only interested in the short-term, but our eternal futures.

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The Continuing Saga

In jr. high, my faith first became my own and I chose to follow Jesus, not just go to church or do what I thought was right (though, I did continue to do those things too.) It was also in jr. high, that I was challenged to start reading the Bible on my own. Read it daily, think about what you read, write down some thoughts and then live out what I was learning. I always excelled when given an assignment, this was no exception. The goal was measurable, achievable, and I was held accountable. There was a small blank for number of days in a row, that I filled in every day for almost a year before I missed one, and that was only because I went to an amusement park and didn’t get home until the next day. I didn’t stop then though, I was hooked on reading the Bible and getting to know God and His ways. I can’t imagine how I would’ve survived as a teen without that. It is through God’s word that I came to truly believe in Jesus as my Savior and Lord.

I was discipled by ladies in the church, who taught me how to study God’s Word and patiently answered my questions and asked me hard questions about choices I was making. In high school, I went on trips to various places in the US and abroad to serve and sing and share the gospel. These things were growing in me a desire to travel the world and live any and everywhere, serving and living for Jesus, so that others might know Him too. One of the trips that I did was a mock-missionary camp. We went to the jungle and lived a rustic existence far from modern civilization. At JAARS, Jungle Aviation And Radio Service, a support branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators, I learned about the great need for people to go and translate the Bible into thousands of languages that did not have the Bible in a language that they could read or understand. They might not even have a written alphabet at all. This was very interesting to me, someone who took all the language classes offered at her high school (include computer ones!) I came home from this trip sweaty and stinky, but excited about the mission field.

As I was deciding where to go to college and what to do with the rest of my life, I attended a huge missions conference, Urbana, and was challenged and encouraged by so many options and ways to share the good news of Jesus around the world. Also, the great need, especially in the 10/40 window, was impressed upon me. It was here, that I first got hold of a book that I’ve used ever since, Operation World. This is a book that details the nations and needs for prayer around the world. Now, I get a daily email reminding me to pray. At Urbana, I connected with some folks at Wycliffe again and also with some other missions agencies. I felt pretty certain that God was calling me into full-time missions, but needed to get educated first. So, I started applying to colleges and intended to study something international. I applied for received a scholarship from our church for students who would go into missions after university.

When my first international course of study, business, was a complete failure for me, I transferred to the University of Michigan to pursue a degree in Linguistics (Language Science). I became involved with the campus ministry now known as Cru. Through this ministry, I was discipled and learned to disciple others. When I studied abroad in the south of France, I met two girls who were doing a year internship with Cru and we partnered together in ministry there. I traveled with them and several others to Tunisia where we prayed and met with staff at the universities in Tunis. During my time in France and at U of M, God taught me to love and teach women and children, especially those of Muslim background, to study His word and to know Him through the Bible. It was also during the time in France, away from my long-time boyfriend and best friend, Brian, that we grew certain we wanted to get married.

As we spent our senior year of college, engaged to be married, we had a lot of talks about our future together. The couple who mentored us made us hash out a lot of our dreams and expectations before we got married. So, it was discussed that, at some time in the not too distant future, we would go into full-time missions overseas, or at least we were willing to go.

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The Journey Begins

When I was 5 years old, I sat my little sisters down in the basement and told them about the love of God for them and that they needed to believe that Jesus was the Son of God who died for them so that they could go to heaven. I told them that they needed to be friends with Jesus starting right then. So, they did. With a successful first missionary experience (that I honestly don’t really remember), I began a life long mission to help others know and grow in faith and friendship with Jesus Christ.

We often had missionaries in our home for dinner when I was very young. I enjoyed hearing stories of where they lived and what they did. I don’t recall any details, but this small thing was something that stuck with me. I would imagine myself traveling around the world and doing all kinds of missionary things… whatever that was. In my mind, missionaries simply flew on planes and then lived in really beautiful, but far away, parts of the world. They didn’t really do much aside from reading or maybe teaching and, of course, they went to church and sang. It seemed the ideal life for me.

One of the church activities that my sisters and I were involved in was Awana. I loved earning my badges by memorizing verses from the Bible. I was really good at it and got lots of candy and had my vest filled up. I still know many of those verses today.

There are some memories from my childhood that I believe have shaped who I am today. I remember people praying at church and so many times hearing amazing answers to those prayers, as people would report back and praise God for the way he worked. Most of all, I remember the ways that my mother trusted God. There were many times when she did not have enough money to cover expenses, but we were always cared for. I know how one day, someone at church stuck a large bill into her coat pocket just when it was most needed. I’ve heard about how for Christmas, my mother didn’t have extra money to but gifts, but miraculously a huge bag of gifts perfect for 3 little girls was left on our porch. There were several families who lovingly came alongside us and cared for us, cut our hair, encouraged and equipped my mother and her girls. And, of course, there’s the story of my favorite blue station wagon. It was beyond it’s last leg, but still barely running. My mom knew the end was near and took it to the car shop to trade it in for a new (to us) vehicle. That little blue car made it all the way into the car lot and broke down in the driveway. God answered prayers and showed himself in mighty ways in my childhood and my mom made sure that my sisters and I saw God’s hand in our lives, protecting and loving us.

This is a big part of who I am and how I started on the journey toward God and His way, no matter what or where.

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As The Saying Goes

Time flies when you’re having fun. We must be having a lot of fun!

I think we really are, but we’re so busy it’s hard to be certain. School, church, sports (basketball for Josiah and gymnastics for Eila, plus exercising for me too), and home make up the routine of our days. We are trying to keep Sundays as our family day and play games, take a walk, or watch a movie together. Brian has been traveling for work about once a month, so that adds a little variety to the schedule. Eila’s gymnastics competitive season is in full swing and we are traveling at least a few weekends each month with her. In January, we went to Toledo and then on to Columbus to visit my family. It was so much fun for all of us – playing games with our cousins, shooting pumpkins, eating well, and just catching up with each other. At the beginning of February we enjoyed a long weekend in Chicago where Brian and I celebrated all of our special occasions for the year with a most delicious and fabulous meal at Moto. We also loved exploring the Museum of Science and Industry as well as doing a little shopping. One of the highlights of that trip was the stop we made on the way home to visit some dear friends. This weekend, Eila and I will take a girls’ trip to Holland; we’ll probably try to squeeze in a little shopping during our time away.

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On My Own

This weekend, a few of my sisters and I met up in Chicago for a bit of shopping and eating. We did a manage to squeeze in a little time to talk and walk as well, but that’s about it. And, it was a blast. Shopping with my little sisters is so much fun and really the only time that have time to scour the sale racks or the energy to try on all the possible fabulous finds. I also love eating good food especially with great people and we did more than a little of that…

Getting to and from the windy city, I took the train and highly recommend it to anyone traveling alone. I had oodles of time to read, study, take notes, think, plan, dream in relative peace and quiet as the train chugged along. The monetary cost was very comparable to driving, but the benefits for a weary woman were priceless. Plus, it was fun for the kids to have an excuse to go to the real train station.

Josiah had such a good time with Daddy, he has asked me to return to Chicago next weekend as well. I just might.

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Looking Back

Since it’s already the second week of January, I figured I should finally review my year in regards to my resolution to be gracious. Well, I have been mostly successful. I must admit that I had sort of forgotten about it by the end of the year, but the work had been done in me and so the change is there. While, I’m still a perfectionist and would love to be completely right in all ways and at all times, I have learned a bit and am able to extend grace to myself and others, on occasion.

2011 was amazing for our family – with two fabulous vacations (LA and Disney), plus lots of time with our extended families (love them), but it was also hard with unexpected twists (Elizabeth). It was a year of tremendous growth for me personally (PTL!). It was a year full of really good home improvement and decorating ideas (kitchen & living room), and with some actual change in at least one room (boys). This was also a year with a pretty big loss (wedding and engagement ring). 2011 was a year of waiting, and yet there were lots of signs and steps toward where I’m waiting and wanting to go, so I rejoice as I look back.

But, I’m also looking ahead.

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What Can I Say?

I’ve been enjoying days, weeks, ok, months in the sun and warmth of summer. But, now, alas, fall is just about here. I can’t sum up all the great fun we’ve had this summer in one simple post. Nor can I highlight the many things we have in store this fall in a single post. Suffice it to say, I laugh, cry, dance and struggle through everyday and yet am blessed beyond measure; I look forward with great joy and trepidation to what lies ahead for our family and will try to share a bit of it (with the few readers I have – thanks for sticking with me and please forgive me for my long absence).

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Crazy Lady

I mentioned today to some acquaintances that we are taking a family vacation soon and that I’m hoping that all three kids will sleep as we are taking a red-eye flight. The responses were many variations on the same theme. Some more sympathetic than others, but mostly just shock and horror at the prospect of flying overnight with three little ones. Maybe they are right and I really have fallen off my rocker, but it seems like a better plan that trying to entertain my wee bitty baby for five hours in my lap… Those older two will watch movies til their eyes fall out, so they should be fine no matter what, right? I pray these are not my famous last words.

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